Boston Philharmonic Orchestra

Ives and Mahler

Symphony No. 3

Symphony No. 5

Benjamin Zander, conductor


We have placed the Ives Third Symphony on a program with Mahler because just such a conjunction almost took place – Mahler had programmed the premiere of this new (1910) work for the following season of concerts of the New York Philharmonic, a season he did not live to conduct. The symphony is a gentle, contemplative work for chamber orchestra, musing nostalgically at times on old American tunes. It is one of the loveliest of all Ives’s compositions.

After the intimacy of the Ives comes the huge, kaleidoscopic Fifth Symphony of Mahler. This work has always been a special favorite of Mr. Zander’s. Its five movements limn a drama of vast scope and urgency, a kind of tragedy in reverse. It starts in brooding, despair, and death, moves through great anguish, outlandish satire, and the ineffable love-drenched musings of the famous Adagietto, to arrive at a solid, joy-filled, feet-on-the-ground place of optimism and hope. It ends, in fact, with the traditional ending of comedy, a marriage – in this case the marriage of Mahler himself to his beloved Alma. The BPO plays Mahler frequently – one might almost think of him as the house composer – and we all look forward to having him back on the program for 2018-19. For no matter how often we play these great symphonies, they always take us and the audience to someplace new.

All dates, repertoire, venues, and artists subject to change.


Friday, April 26, 2019 
8:00PM / Symphony hall
Guide to the music with Benjamin Zander, 6:45pm